The Chatham Islands are New Zealand’s eastern most outpost, the first place in the world to welcome the new day and a treasure trove of endemic plants and animals that have evolved in isolation and make these islands one of New Zealand’s most biologically important regions.
Originally colonized by the Moriori people who created a unique lifestyle and society on the islands while living in isolation from the outside world on the abundant natural resources of the sea and land. Later European and Maori arrivals brought their own history and traditions which have melded together to create the culture of the Chatham Islands. Today many locals are descended from Moriori genealogy, a history and culture that you can discover during your stay.
The Chatham Islands lie at the eastern extremity of the Chatham Rise and were formed by a combination of volcanic activity and uplift of the underlying basement rocks to create the low lying rolling landscape of the main island while the outlying smaller islands are the remains of individual volcanic events. The fauna and flora of the Chatham’s has strong affinities to the main islands of New Zealand but through isolation many species have evolved to the local climate becoming unique to the islands. The oceanic climate ensures a wide diversity of species are able to flourish while the ocean brings its own unique abundance of sea life including the albatross the petrels that breed primarily on the offshore Islands.
Our Chatham Islands program is designed from our long experience of travelling and working in these remarkable islands to give you the greatest opportunity to experience all that the islands are able to offer.
Our Chatham Islands program begins at Christchurch Airport where we gather prior to flying to the Chatham Islands at 1pm. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the Hotel Chathams in Waitangi which is our home away from home for the week and the base for our exploration of the Chatham Islands.
This morning we drive to Kaingaroa passing Te Whanga Lagoon as we make our way to the Far NE of the island. Here the coastline is a mixture of sweeping white sand beaches interrupted only by occasional headlands, on these headlands both Chatham and Pitt Islands Shags are often seen as well as Fur Seals breeding on the rocks below. Some of the best examples of the Chatham’s unique coastal vegetation are found here. Kaingaroa is historically important as one of the first areas settled by Europeans. Nearby we have the privilege of visiting the Hapupu Reserve where the Kopi trees still bear the enigmatic engravings of the Moriori.
Throughout the week we are focusing on the unique botanical nature of the Chatham Islands with its many endemic plant species but today is sure to be one of the highlights of the week with a visit to Henga Scenic Reserve and Nursery, we will walk through the regenerating coastal forest as it transitions to sand dune vegetation. There is also the opportunity to purchase native Chatham’s plants from the nursery. At the Nikau Reserve we will be able to explore the protected 19ha reserve that conserves the broadleaf forest and a fine stand of endemic Nikau palms. This afternoon we plan to visit the stunning sheltered gardens of Val Snr & Lois Croon, planted in an array of native and exotic species these gardens showcase the floral diversity of the Chathams.
In the North West of the Chatham’s there are extensive farms, fern lands and striking volcanic cones. Travelling to the end of the road at Waitangi West we find more sweeping white sand beaches and here there is the opportunity to look for the endemic Chatham Island Oyster Catcher. On the lower slopes of Maunganui we will visit the stone cottage, built entirely of local materials including mortar made from burnt pipi shells. At Ohira Bay we will explore the massive columnar basalt columns that are nearly 80 million years old.
This morning we plan to fly to Pitt Island, the second largest Island in the Chatham’s and the only other inhabited island, with a population of just 45 life here is generally peaceful. We plan to spend the day here exploring the islands nature reserves, visiting Mt Hakepa and enjoying lunch hosted at the Flower Pott Lodge.
The south coast of Chatham Island is completely different to the rest of the island, rising to higher elevations and still retaining significant areas of vegetation that thrives in the thick covering of peat that blankets the landscape. The enigmatic Taiko or Magenta Petrel was rediscovered breeding along the Tuku River and is now intensively managed to ensure its ongoing survival. A visit to the Awatotara Reserve is an excellent opportunity to see a great example of community lead conservation making a real difference as the forest regenerates and birdlife flourishes, be on the lookout today for the endemic Chatham Island Pigeon, tomtit and fantail and warbler.
Our last full day in the Chatham’s and an opportunity to focus on the islands history and culture, this morning we make our way to the fishing village of Owenga where you will be able to see the statue commemorating Tommy Solomon, the last full blooded Moriori. Standing atop the Rangaiki Cliffs with their 250m high sheer drop to the sea below there are amazing views on a clear day to Pitt and Mangere Islands as well as out to the seldom seen 44’s. The Kopinga Marae is an expression of Moriori spirituality and culture and an opportunity for you to learn about the history of the first inhabitants of the Chatham Islands (known to Moriori as Rekohu).
After breakfast this morning we make our way to the Airport for our return flight to Christchurch where we expect to arrive at midday.
Itineraries are subject to change.
26 October, 2021 to 02 November, 2021
Double/twin Ensuite Chatham Rise motel
Double/twin room with ensuite within the Chatham Rise Motel. No single supplement.
Double/Twin Forget me not Suite
Chatham Island Accommodation
The Wild Earth Travel Chatham Island itineraries stay at the following places:
- Hotel Chatham
- The Forget-me-not Suites
- Chatham Rise Motel
- Travellers Rest
Enquire with Wild Earth Travel to find out the accommodation you will be staying at for your departure date.
Seaside charm and hospitality
Hotel Chatham looks out across Waitangi Bay to the wharf, broad sweeping beach and Red Bluff in the distance. With its restaurant, timber-lined bar and relaxed atmosphere, it's where the heart of the island beats.
The Forget-me-not Suites:
These nine spacious five star suites offer you luxury, space and views for your ultimate Island holiday! They were opened in 2020, so offer you a fresh modern stay in the heart of the Chatham's.
Chatham Rise Motel
The Chatham Rise Motel is a good option for independent travellers, and small holidaying or working groups wanting quiet and privacy, just 700 metres up from Hotel Chatham. Chatham Rise Motel includes four units: Unit 1 has five bedrooms with a large shared lounge and kitchen, group dining table and comfortable lounge. Laundry is available onsite. Hotel Chatham runs a courtesy van to and from the Bar and Restaurant.
Travellers Rest includes a large shared lounge, traditional porch with sea views, tradittionally-styled rooms, a self-contained unit and a two-bedroom unit with provate lounge and fully equipped kitchen.
Fish, freshly caught from the converging current waters around the Chathams, is a specialty at Hotel Chatham. Depending on what's just been caught, you'll have the opportunity to try local seafood delicacies including crayfish, hapuku or groper, blue cod and paua. And if seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of menu choices too. As well as New Zealand wines and brews, Hotel Chatham is the only place you’ll enjoy the local craft beer Breezy Brew lager with a hint of Toni's Chatham Island wild honey.
• Return air travel on Air Chathams
• Seven night’s accommodation
• All meals including continental breakfast / picnic lunches / buffet dinners
• All sightseeing and entry fees as outlined in itinerary
• Full Day Pitt Island Tour including flights and lunch.
• A 90 page ‘Discover the Chatham Islands’ booklet and map on arrival
• Costs of travel to/from Christchurch Airport
• Travel Insurance
• Personal purchases, drinks with meals.